We all are impacted by, and reap the benefits of, medical research discoveries. From over-the-counter drugs, to healthcare policies and educational interventions, many of these advancements are a result of incredible feats, decades of work, and sometimes serendipitous events. Join us as we sit down with Harvard researchers to discuss these captivating behind-the-scenes stories of research.
Alicia Whittington, PhD, assistant director of engagement and health equity research for the Football Players Health Study at Harvard University, discusses her work in health equity and community-engaged research.
Alicia J. Whittington, PhD, MPH, is the assistant director of engagement and health equity research for the Football Players Health Study at Harvard University, a comprehensive research program dedicated to addressing the health and wellbeing of former National Football League (NFL) players. She is also co-lead of a new research initiative, Family Experiences Managing Football Lives, also known as FEM-FL. Whittington has several years of research experience, including her role as project director for a global research consortium, and was previously a healthcare consultant. She received a PhD in health systems management from Tulane University, where she focused on health disparities, health outcomes, and sports injuries. She completed her dissertation research on “Concussion Education and Perceptions of Injury Risk among High School Football Players.” Whittington additionally received her master of public health degree in chronic disease epidemiology from Yale University, and a bachelor of arts in public health from Wellesley College.
How researchers illustrate their data is critical to communicating their research. Jess Cohen-Tanugi, MS, discusses her role as a visualization specialist at Harvard University’s library, including guidance on formatting tables, charts, and other graphics.
Jess Cohen-Tanugi, MS, is a visualization specialist as part of Harvard University’s library. She provides support to anyone in the Harvard community who wants to incorporate data visualization into their research, teaching, or coursework. Prior to this position, Cohen-Tanugi worked in online education, collaborating with MIT faculty to create multimedia for some of MITx’s first open online courses. She holds a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics and master’s degree in science communication
A discussion on research that investigates the factors that underlie low participation and early dropout in the Massachusetts Women, Infants & Children (WIC) program. Guests: Eric Rimm, PhD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Rachel Colchamiro, MPH, RD, LDN, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and Cristina Gago, MPH, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Ruslan Nikitin, PhD, health policy analyst for our Community Engagement program, serves as a guest host.
Ruslan V. Nikitin, PhD, MSc, is a health policy analyst for Harvard Catalyst’s Community Engagement program. In this role, he leads strategy and implementation for policy and evidence translation work. Previously, he conducted health services and behavioral health research at Brandeis’s Heller School of Social Policy and Management. He received his PhD in social policy and his MSc in global health policy and management from Brandeis University.
Eric Rimm, ScD, is professor of epidemiology and nutrition, and director of the program in cardiovascular epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is also professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and serves as the director of the PhD program in population health sciences. For more than three decades, he has conducted extensive research on the health effects of diet and lifestyle in relation to obesity and chronic disease. He is internationally recognized for his extensive work in the study of the health effects of whole grains, micronutrients, moderate alcohol consumption, and polyphenols. He also studies the impact of local and national food nutrition policy as it relates to the improvement of diets of school children and for Americans on food assistance programs. He has previously served on the Institute of Medicine’s food policy committee, and on the scientific advisory committee for the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Rimm has received several awards for his work, including the American Society for Nutrition General Mills Institute of Health and Nutrition Innovation Award.
Cristina Gago, MPH, CHES, is a PhD candidate in public health nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her dissertation examines the barriers that caregivers face in accessing resources and services for the promotion of healthy weight in young children from low-income households. Although many resources, such as those offered by the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program and Head Start, exist for family health promotion, underutilization is common. Through her work, she hopes to identify key opportunities to increase service uptake by improving intervention implementation.
Rachel Colchamiro, MPH, currently serves as the Massachusetts state director of the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. Previously, she was the director for nutrition services in the Nutrition Division of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. She has also served as the Massachusetts state WIC breastfeeding coordinator. Colchamiro received her undergraduate degree in nutritional science from Cornell University and her master of public health degree from the University of California Berkeley. She is a registered dietitian and a certified breastfeeding counselor.
Ben Freedman, PhD, Wyss Institute at Harvard University, discusses his research on the design and synthesis of adhesive biomaterials for applications in orthopedic and cardiovascular surgery, as well as neurosurgery.
Ben Freedman, PhD, is a research associate with Dave Mooney’s lab at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University. Freedman’s research focuses on the design and synthesis of adhesive biomaterials for applications in orthopedic surgery, cardiovascular surgery, and neurosurgery. He and his team are currently working to translate the materials they have developed to improve tissue healing inside and outside of the body. Freedman has received several competitive NIH and NSF grants, including a K99, iCorps, F32, and GRFP. He has additionally co-authored more than37 manuscripts. Freedman received his PhD in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania andhisBS in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Rochester.
Elliott Antman, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, reflects on his career in cardiovascular medicine and discusses his work with our Education program to train and support the next generation of the biomedical workforce.
Elliott Antman, MD, is director of Postgraduate Education in Clinical and Translational Science for Harvard Catalyst. He is a senior physician specializing in cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), as well as professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS). Antman’s clinical interests include acute coronary syndromes, atrial fibrillation, and myocardial infarction. His research focuses on the clinical pharmacology of cardiovascular agents and evaluation in randomized control trials. He received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, completed an internal medicine residency at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center (now New York-Presbyterian Hospital), and a cardiology fellowship at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.
“Diagnostics is an art. It’s a science independent of the rest of biotech or medicine,” says Mara Aspinall, MBA, president and CEO of Health Catalysts. In this podcast, Aspinall discusses the importance of the field of diagnostics, especially during the pandemic.
Mara Aspinall, MBA, is a biotech industry executive and healthcare pioneer. She is president and CEO of Health Catalysts, a firm dedicated to the growth of new healthcare companies, and executive chairman of GenePeeks, a computational genomics company. Aspinall co-founded the International School of Biomedical Diagnostics at Arizona State University, the first school dedicated entirely to diagnostics as an independent discipline. She is also co-founder of EPEMED, the European Personalized Medicine Association. Previously, Aspinall was president of Genzyme Genetics and Genzyme Pharmaceuticals, as well as president and CEO of Ventana Medical Systems division of Roche, which specialized in the development and commercialization of tissue-based cancer diagnostics.
Erica Shenoy, MD, PhD, associate chief of the Infection Control Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, discusses her work to create the software tool COvid Risk cALculator (CORAL), which helps clinicians assess patients who develop COVID-19 symptoms.
Erica S. Shenoy, MD, PhD, is an associate physician at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and associate chief of the Infection Control Unit. She is also associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, a trained health economist, and medical director of the Regional Emerging Special Pathogens Treatment Center at MGH. Her research evaluates the clinical, operational, and economic impact of competing infection control strategies for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). Previously, she served as the infectious diseases and infection control advisor to MGH and MassGeneral Brigham for the COVID-19 response. She has published and lectured nationally and internationally on infection prevention and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, on approaches for SARS-CoV-2, the role of universal masking in healthcare settings and in the community, evaluation and management of healthcare workers infected with COVID-19, and on optimizing evaluation and isolation of patients with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 in healthcare settings.
Keith Romano, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and engineers Jim Richards and Tyler Dailey discuss their collaboration to create a low-cost ventilator during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keith Romano, MD, PhD, is a pulmonologist and critical care intensivist in the Division of Pulmonary Medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). Romano aspires to become a physician-scientist in pulmonary and critical care medicine, dedicated to research at the interface of chest medicine and respiratory infectious diseases. His research focuses on antibiotic development in an era fraught with multi-drug resistant respiratory pathogens. During the COVID-19 pandemic, his research shifted toward improving healthcare outcomes in resource-limited settings, where the demand for ventilators outstrips supply. His belief is that a simple, affordable, and rapidly scalable assist-mode ventilator would fill a major gap in the collective response to combat the current pandemic, as well as future pandemics. Impassioned by this mission, he has collaborated with a nonprofit engineering group to help design and test a simple ventilator, called the AeroBreath. Since its conception, it has accumulated growing support from leaders within the BWH Pulmonary Division and potential global partners on the ground in Africa and Haiti.